Elder care lawyer criticizes Brownback administration for not pursuing federal dollars for home-based health care
- on September 9, 2011
Molly Wood, who practices elder law in Lawrence, criticized the Brownback administration for not taking advantage of a new program offered through the Affordable Care Act.
The program called Community First Choice Option will be available Oct. 1, and it provides an increased match of federal funding for home and community-based services. Not only are these services far less expensive than nursing homes, but most older adults prefer them.
States like California and New York are participating. Wood estimates it would provide an additional $33 million for Kansas.
The state’s Secretary on Aging Shawn Sullivan and SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki have talked openly in community forums about shifting the cost of long-term care from institutional settings to home-base care. Yet, Wood said, the state isn’t accepting federal dollars to do so.
To exacerbate the issue, she said rural Kansas doesn’t have enough community and home-based services and therefore, older adults are often institutionalized.
“It seems like we care more about sticking our finger in Obama’s eye than taking care of our own elderly,” she said Friday afternoon during the Kansas Advocates for Better Care annual meeting. “The only rational explanation is that it’s just all raw, bare-knuckle politics and I’m disappointed that the quality of care of our elderly in Kansas is sacrificed for bare-knuckle politics.”
About 90 people attended the meeting at the Community Health Facility in Lawrence, and Wood’s comment drew applause.
Wood was the keynote speaker and she provided an overview of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on older adults during a 90-minute presentation.
Under the federal legislation, Medicare beneficiaries receive preventive services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and bone density scans, with no out-of-pocket cost.
“Medicare is doing what all of our health care experts tell us we should do, focusing on preventive care,” Wood said. “They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which is a better use of public dollars.”
The Affordable Care Act also provides better prescription drug coverage for those who hit the dreaded “doughnut hole.” People hit the doughnut hole once they’ve spent $2,840, which is the drug coverage limit, and then they stay in the hole until expenses reach the catastrophic coverage threshold, which is $4,550.
Before the Affordable Care Act, there was no help in the doughnut hole. Now, recipients get a 50-percent discount on brand name drugs and a 7-percent discount on generic brands.
The doughnut hole will be eliminated in 2020 under federal law.
Wood said she’s “thrilled” to see more adult care home regulations under the Affordable Care Act. There are about 28,000 residents in 350 nursing homes in Kansas. The legislation requires:
• Transparency of ownership.
• Beefed-up training requirements for those who provide hands-on care in nursing homes.
• Enhanced training of inspectors so they recognize the signs of abuse and neglect.
• Interstate background checks for adult care home workers. Wood said Kansas already does this.
Wood admits the Affordable Care Act is complex, but it does provide benefits for older adults.
Her advice for preparing for the future — buy long-term care insurance and get a colonoscopy, and start at age 50 for both.